On Friday, we went to work, our students came to school, and at the end of the day we all went home. In Newtown, Connecticut, 28 people – including 20 precious six and seven year olds – did not go home at the end of the day.
Elementary schools are full of indoor shoes and backpacks, bandaids and books, laughter and learning. On Friday, Sandy Hook Elementary School was taken over by handguns, horror and unimaginable chaos.
As more details are released, my emotions move in and out of sadness, anger, anguish, pain and devastation – despite the fact that I did not know the children or adults who died, nor the ones who survived this tragedy. My own emotions so raw, I simply cannot imagine the heightened, intense emotions of that community. I cannot imagine the terror and confusion for those six year olds in the last moments of their lives. I cannot imagine how the school staff will move forward from this real-life nightmare. I cannot imagine how the students who survived will ever feel safe in a school again or how they will ever recover from inevitable anguish and grief. I cannot imagine how these families will celebrate Christmas, this year or for years to come.
My thoughts move to the perpetrator of these crimes: What drove this 20 year old to something so horrific? What did he face in his own young life that made taking two handguns and a rifle to an elementary school the answer to his problems? After all, he was once a kindergarten student, too.
I have more questions than answers… How do we reconcile the increasing prevalence of guns in our society? How do we reach out to individuals to ensure a mass killing isn’t the solution to any predicament? How do we communicate our condolences to the families involved? How do we ensure these tiny victims are not lost without purpose? How do we bring meaning to this tragedy?
The answers will take thought, work, time and creativity. Ultimately, the answers may elude us.
What I do know… I will be thankful for each day of safety within our school, I will continue to be grateful to live in Canada, I will pray for healing in a community I had not even heard of until Friday and I will hug my loved ones a little tighter and a lot longer than usual.